Iraq: Sunni Arab Diehards Fight to the Death


August 31, 2006: Combined Iraqi/Coalition police and military operations in Baghdad seem to be yielding excellent results. Two neighborhoods in particular, Mansour and Doura, both formerly hotbeds of insurgent and sectarian violence, are calming down. The massively reinforced troops and police have been concentrating on heavy patrolling, routing out terrorist and illegal militia safe houses, and frequent sweeps to uncover illegal arms caches (though every family is allowed one AK-47 for 'self defense'). This has greatly reduced the incidence of violence, and particularly of sectarian attacks. As a result, the restoration of public services is proceeding. Although the local water supply, sewer system, and electrical grid are not yet working fully, they are working.
The local inhabitants largely supported this process, by quietly aiding the troops and cops with tips on the location of insurgents and arms dumps. Business activity has begun to pick up, reducing unemployment, which further reduces the potential recruiting base for insurgents and militias. But the people are being wary. There is concern that once these districts are declared "clear" of hostile elements, the strong military/police presence will be reduced to a point where the insurgents and militias might return.
But the dozen or so major terrorist groups are still able to find secure areas for their activities. This is because most of the terrorist groups are either clan or tribe based, or religious. If tribal, they can rely on family ties to obtain secure hiding places, and a source of recruits. If religious, the group has one or more mosques, and their congregations, to use for support. Most of the terrorist attacks are against civilians, with the violence reduced to a Sunni-Shia battle for control of the country. The Shia control the government, via the last few elections, and a minority of Sunni Arabs are trying to terrorize the Shia into giving up that control. The Shia have refused to do that, and the government has made amnesty deals with the majority of the Sunni Arab tribes and religious leaders. However, in a pattern seen many times before in this part of the world, the Sunni Arab diehards will fight to the death, killing as many of their Iraqi enemies as they can, along the way.
The government is moving against Shia militias in the south. These are mainly the Sadr (or "Mehdi Army") and Badr groups. The Sadr forces have resisted strongly, causing several battles that have left over a hundred dead. These operations are basically Shia versus Shia, as the army units being used were recruited in the south and are almost entirely Shia. Some Kurdish special operations units are in the south, but these are used sparingly.
After a 30 percent dip last month, U.S. casualties are back to the levels of two months ago. So far this year, there have been about a hundred American casualties (dead and wounded) per week. The recent increase comes mainly from more combat operations against terrorist bases in Sunni Arab areas in western Iraq and Baghdad neighborhoods.


Article Archive

Iraq: Current 2021 2020 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 2000 1999 



Help Keep Us Soaring

We need your help! Our subscription base has slowly been dwindling. We need your help in reversing that trend. We would like to add 20 new subscribers this month.

Each month we count on your subscriptions or contributions. You can support us in the following ways:

  1. Make sure you spread the word about us. Two ways to do that are to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
  2. Subscribe to our daily newsletter. We’ll send the news to your email box, and you don’t have to come to the site unless you want to read columns or see photos.
  3. You can contribute to the health of StrategyPage. A contribution is not a donation that you can deduct at tax time, but a form of crowdfunding. We store none of your information when you contribute..
Subscribe   Contribute   Close